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Napier Museum – a naturally ventilated Gothic masterpiece


The Napier Museum in Trivandrum, which dates back to the 18th century, is a must-see for those who love culture, history and design.

Want to delve deeper into architectural wonders kerala? Napier Museum is the place for you! This gem was named after Lord Napier, the Governor of Madras Province, who was struck by the unique architectural style of Kerala. Me too, so I knew I had to add the Napier Museum to my itinerary during my recent stay in Trivandrum. This masterpiece was designed by the talented architect Robert Fellowes Chisholm and built in 1880 by Ailiam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore (Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja) Open to the public.

Chisholm was a champion of indigenous art and ensured that it was incorporated into the design of the structure. He even studied the architecture of Kerala in detail before undertaking the project. So, if you want to soak up some serious architectural knowledge while admiring the beauty of Kerala, look no further than Napier Museum. The site is situated on a vast land of 55 acres and houses one of the oldest zoos in India – the Trivandrum Zoological Park established in 1857.

The museum’s gardens are pleasant, with a variety of trees and flowers that are soothing. Note that the oldest rubber tree in Kerala stands there, brought all the way from Ceylon in 1876 and planted by the one and only Visakham Thirunal. It’s like a piece of living history in the backyard of a museum. As you walk through the lush greenery, you’ll come across a striking red and white Gothic-style roofed building. When I stepped into the building I was immediately struck by the stunning architecture. The Indo-Saracenic style is a delight to the eye with its intricate details and ornate carvings.

My curiosity was piqued and I eagerly awaited the treasures that awaited me inside. This beautiful building was built in 1855 and now houses extensive art and natural history exhibits. I was particularly interested in the unique architectural design of the museum, which blends elements from Indian, Chinese, Kerala and Mughal architectural schools to create a unique structure. Let’s not forget the museum’s natural air conditioning system, thanks to its Indo-Saracenic style. It’s like stepping into a cool oasis on a hot summer day. But the real treasure lies within the walls of this architectural masterpiece.

The museum houses an amazing collection of ancient artifacts and beautiful artworks that truly showcase India’s rich cultural heritage. It’s like traveling back in time, but with air conditioning and no time machine. So if you’re looking for a bit of history, culture and lots of beautiful architecture, then Napier Museum should definitely be on your bucket list. This Gothic masterpiece houses a dizzying array of artistic, cultural and antique items. From bronze idols to ancient coins, from wood carvings to stone carvings, and even temple chariots, palanquins and ivory carvings, this museum has it all.

When you step inside, you will feel like you are transported back to the days of British India. It’s like a time machine, but without all the complicated scientific stuff. You’ll get a unique opportunity to explore India’s rich cultural heritage and gain a deeper understanding of its fascinating past. The museum also displays Indian epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana depicted on Japanese shadow puppet leather. It’s like a cultural mashup that will surprise you. As I wandered through the hallowed halls of the museum, my first stop was the natural history section.

From majestic statues to delicate butterflies, there is a wealth of well-preserved creatures here, all for me to see. The butterfly collection is particularly noteworthy, with specimens from all corners of the globe. Next, I ventured to the Arts District, where I saw a dazzling array of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts by Ravi Verma. Top priority? A series of ancient bronze statues of gods, so beautifully crafted that I couldn’t help but marvel at their beauty. Each idol is meticulously displayed as if they were royalty themselves. The museum is a veritable feast for the senses.

Additionally, the ethnographic part of the museum is an absolute delight. The exhibits showcase the clothing, jewelry and lifestyle of the locals. But what really caught my attention were the reconstructed models of traditional houses. It’s like peering into a time capsule and getting a glimpse into the daily lives of the people who once lived in it. The museum also has an impressive collection of ancient coins, with more than 5,000 pieces.

Visitors can also explore the nearby Natural History Museum, which houses bird and animal skeletons, and a taxidermy gallery. For art lovers, Shri Chitra Art Gallery is a must-visit. Last but not least, Trivandrum Zoo is just a stone’s throw away. I was struck by the meticulous attention to detail that went into the planning of each exhibit. Each piece is presented with such precision and care, and the information provided is both informative and fascinating. The museum’s rich collection and stunning architecture make it a must-visit for anyone visiting Trivandrum.

Despite the lack of air-conditioning systems, the Indo-Sarace buildings never had any ventilation problems. It’s like a natural breeze that knows how to flow through the place. Let’s not forget the bandstand – it has some serious hidden speakers and acoustics and was once the go-to spot for the Travancore Nair Brigade band’s Friday night gigs. So if you are looking for a place to experience culture, history and fresh air, this museum is the place for you.

Time: 10 am to 4:45 pm. Open all day except Mondays and Wednesdays from 10am to 4.45pm.





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